While the predictability of most northeast Ohio news rag top "25" teams is very obvious, we look at football from some different angles. NO MEDIA DARLINGS HERE nor will our list be comprised exclusively of Division-I primadonna blow-hards.
We look deeper than that. We don't care about the name of your school. We want to see players with heart and passion for the game. Not a group of kids that think they deserve to be page one because they go to "St. Play Nobody." We're not aiming for the popular vote. We're giving you a reality check. We realize not many of you can handle reality, so here it is. Not everyone can be #1 boys!
Here's how week 7 panned out for us:
1. Youngstown Ursuline (7-0) The Irish are probably the finest tuned football machine in northeast Ohio and could probably stand toe to toe with ANY team regardless of division. Their opponents have been quality and it doesn't let up as they'll close out with Akron Buchtel, Mooney and Akron SVSM. The only thing nicer would be seeing them match-up with the team right behind them in points, Kirtland, in the post-season! That would be a war.
2. Brunswick (7-0) The Blue Devils under coach Rich Nowak simply do not miss a beat. They lose talent galore this past season and they just pick up where they left off.....WINNING! They are a lock to be the top seed in D1, R2 and have won every challenge thus far. This week will be a big test in their annual showdown with Strongsville.
3. Strongsville (6-1) A tough outing against Lakewood didn't help the Mustangs' with the power above them in the rankings, but nonetheless they were able to put together a great running game in the 4th quarter of that game to get a win. Led by Mr. Football Ohio hopeful, Kellen Pagel, the Mustangs have a shot at going deep into the post-season if they keep their focus. They face off with Brunswick this week and can gain momentum down the stretch.
4. St. Edward (6-1) After slipping a few spots last week, the Eagles took their high flying show on the road to PA where they toppled a struggling Cathedral Prep team. St. X, Moeller and Ignatius lie in the path of Eds' remaining schedule so they'll need to dig deep to maintain their push into the post-season.
5. Kirtland (7-0) The Hornet Nation is still abuzz after knocking off Cardinal 35-0. The fact that Cardinal "is who we thought they were" is why Kirtland slips a bit to number 5, but they are very much a force to be reckoned with. The only team ahead of them in divisional points is Ursuline. Oh what a great playoff game that would be!
6. Mayfield (6-1) The biggest climber of the week is Mayfield. Head Coach Larry Pinto has the Wildcats tasting post-season with every game. They need to maintain their focus as well and allow no letdowns the remainder of the season and especially in the playoffs like last year. We think this could be a special year for the 'Cats.
7. Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (6-1) The Cardinals may have dealt a deadly blow to Benedictine's playoff hopes this week. but they are on a mission of their own. The combined record of their remaining schedule is 17-4 as they'll face Akron SVSM, Ursuline and Watterson. A tremendous schedule and one hell of a test.
8. Mentor (5-2) An up and down start to the season may be over as the Cardinals seem to have found their stride. An utter demolition of Shaker Heights helped move them up this list, but even more is the way these warriors respond to head coach Steve Trivisonno. Mentor is in position to make their run.
9. Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary (6-1) The other "Irish" on the list have been doing their job ever so quietly all season long. They earned a hard fought victory over Walsh this week with a gutsy defensive effort in the first real "cold" weekend of the season. They also have a tough remaining schedule. Stay tuned.
10. Chagrin Falls (6-1) The Tigers took advantage of their playoff hunger to dine on Wickliffe at the tune of 44-14. They knock Perry out of the current DGD rankings but this should be a dogfight down the stretch. Falls faces off with Aurora and Perry among their remaining teams, so this will be good.
11. Euclid (5-2) The Panthers have truly been hot and cold "somewhat" this season, but mostly hot as evident by their 34-7 thrashing of Cleveland Heights. The offense has had it share of down games, but Tommy Gibbons' defense has been rock solid this year with only a handful of road bumps that have led to losses. The Panthers need to hold tight and play their hearts out to secure the first part of their post-season journey going through Euclid.
12. St. Ignatius (6-1) Well, we couldn't keep our eyes off of them for the entire season, but we'd love to put them up against ANY of the teams ahead of them on this list and NONE of them would be easy, but they way that Harding came into their game Saturday and Iggy put them down...well we had to honor that. After all we do pride ourselves on how much of this game WE ARE!
Perry gets bumped by Chagrin Falls and even out of playoff contention, but hang on for the home stretch battle between these two teams and Aurora. Aurora made a good run this week and barely got nudged out by St. Ignatius who rocked Warren Harding Saturday night. Padua played tough against a determined NDCL squad, while the Lions still moved into the 7th playoff spot with the loss. Streetsboro played the game of the week against Mogadore and came up short by a field goal. Carrington Hanna will have the Rockets back on this list we're sure, by the end of the season.
Walsh took a tumble, but they are always lurking. Again a lot of these teams go head to head in the coming weeks, so hang on to your hats! It will be a fun ride down the stretch. Nice way to top last year's season of thrills.
SOME NOTES ON A FEW OF OUR BOYS THAT MOVED ON TO THE COLLEGE GRIDIRON:
D1 members and scholarship athletes Nick Viola (VASJ) and Mike Hounshell (NDCL) are now getting regular playing time at Lake Erie (NCAA D-II) and Viola has even secured a starting role at line backer. West Geauga grad Brigham VanEtten is now Gannon's go to receiver taking over that role after week two of the season. Over at California PA, Sam Fikaris (Mayfield '07) is still anchoring the defensive line at NT for the Vulcans who are 5-1 and set to make a charge at the NCAA D-II title once again. Twinsburg grad Nate Schkurko is holding his own at wideout and long snapper now for Youngstown State and was named to the Gateway Conference Honor Roll. Great job guys!
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